Back in the frigid days of March, when I had to trudge out to the barn to haul buckets and buckets of water to our cow and then milk Penny and freeze my digits off, and this spring when I was swimming in milk and forced to make cheese pretty much every single day I told Matt that this year I NEEDED a vacation and that when Penny dried up (thus freeing us from morning chores and giving us the potential to actually leave this place for once) we WOULD be going somewhere (ANYWHERE!) and actually staying in a (gasp!) hotel room. That's it. I needed a hotel room.
It would be the first real vacation we've had...pretty much ever. We went to the zoo and stayed at a hotel once when we moved from southern PA to Northern PA but that was en route to our new home. We stayed at a hotel room for a funeral once and for a church conference. We've stayed at friends' houses when we went to spend time with them. But I don't recall ever driving to a place for no other reason than to be all together and just...have fun.
This was epic.
Since the husband is a workaholic and uses all his vacation to work on things around this place, when he told me he had a week off for vacation he also then listed about a half dozen large projects that he wanted to complete during that time. I politely and calmly (or not) reminded him of his PROMISE that we could get away from this place and go on a bonafide vacation this summer and I explained how much I NEEDED a break before the milking started up again this fall. And we settled on TWO nights, three days. Enough time for me to play, enough time for him to work.
Two nights and three days is piddly compared to some people who vacation for a week or have several vacations through the year- but BOY, was I excited. This was huge!
Since the children studied Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day , I wanted to take them to an aquarium. Since I have two boys, I knew that an aquarium with sharks was an absolute must. A few smaller aquariums are closer to home, but without the sharks. Then, I found the Baltimore Aquarium.
Baltimore, Maryland was our destination!
Baltimore, Maryland was our destination!
Curious...who is that lanky boy in the yellow shirt that popped into our family picture? And where was my baby Judah running off to when I was taking the picture?
We drove out early, early on Sunday morning to visit a particular church midway to MD (which, incidentally, was headquarters to Veritas- where we get much of our curriculum!) and then headed straight into the city.
Matt wanted to tour the ships there (he has a passion for ships) but since each tour cost money, Judah (the freebie) and the bigger kids who would enjoy it joined him while Adele' and I stayed on the docks.
Her front tooth was so loose, she could turn it practically entirely around but she just didn't want to pull it. We thought it would surely fall out while we were gone...but it didn't!
Corynn asked me to take this picture of the Barnes and Noble. She said it reminded her of Hogwarts, Harry Potter's school.
Then we went to the aquarium. Let me just say- I about swallowed my tongue when I had to fork over $178.00 just to admit my family into the aquarium. I had searched in vain for discounts and coupons before we left to no avail and so I told myself (and Matt, who was equally disgusted) that since we only take a family vacation every 13 years, it would even out- right?
If I had a mansion to live in, I would most certainly have a dark room filled with columns of glittering bubble like these. They were amazing.
The kids touched sea snails, horseshoe crabs, stingrays and (this suprised me...) JELLYFISH.
Andrew and a jolly fish, enjoying one anothers' company. Who was enjoying the visit more, I wonder?
My little rednecks had almost as much fun touring the building as they had riding on the escalators and walking through revolving doors over and over and over again. (The signs saying no playing on escalators were ignored. Sorry. We were going to get our moneys' worth!)
Though this particular escalator was like riding right into an enormous television screen.
Probably the cutest (big) fish in the big, blue ocean.
The strangest of the sea creatures- bubbling, with fins.
They seem to be friendly, though.
It was very hard for me to take clear photos of the creatures behind the glass as they swam around. This one stinks but the fish is so impressive I have to include it anyway. It was as big as a shark!
A lovely specimen as he stood, peering out at the ships in the harbor and wondering when it would all be over...
The ONLY photographic evidence I have that I was even on this vacation.
At this point, Matt and I were both exhausted. But we hadn't seen all of the aquarium and we had skipped lunch because all the food options at the harbor were outrageously expensive. I had packed plenty of snacks though so we feasted on meat sticks and cheese sticks and on dried apple slices that I had made beforehand while admiring the dolphins.
When Judah broke out the apple chips...
...it didn't take long for the other children to follow. There's Corynn.
And seconds later, Andrew appeared.
Thank you, dolphin, for the diversion- and the chance to SIT DOWN for a minute or two.
My favorite spot of the place was the jellyfish wing. They are so amazing and relaxing and peaceful. I could have watched them all day. In my make believe mansion, I would have a pet jellyfish or two as well.
A few more rides on the elevator and we were finally free to get out of that craaaazy city traffic (very stressful for us country bumpkins) and get ourselves some supper. We went to an all-you-can-eat buffet where we most certainly got our moneys' worth! and the children got their first (and second and probably third) tastes of ICEE.
That night, I learned an interesting thing about hotel rooms.
Hotel rooms aren't as much fun as I had envisioned when you share a room with four children. Not only are you super sensitive to every little sound your excited family makes so that you do not disturb other rooms...but you also have to stay completely quiet at bedtime, with lights out, not even whispering lest the children will not settle down and sleep.
The next morning a little girl who was in the room below us saw us leaving and asked Matt if we were a family of gymnasts. I guess I didn't do as good a job as I thought I did at keeping the kids settled down.
I know this much- a hotel room alone with your husband would likely be an entirely different experience.
We should try it sometime. ;-)